Username/Email: Password:
News Article
New Poll - Machine Translations
This week's poll was modified from something that icassop suggested. What's your opinion on machine translations?

You can submit poll ideas here

Previous Poll Results:
Question: How do you feel when looking back at your childhood?
Happy and nostalgic - votes: 1684 (60.2%)
Sad and regretful - votes: 1115 (39.8%)
There were 2799 total votes.
The poll ended: February 12th, 2022 8:36am PST

Awww, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed youth
Posted by lambchopsil on 
February 12th 8:41am
Comments ( 30 )  
[ View ]  [ Add ]

Comments (limited to first 100 replies)

» Senrosj on February 12th, 2022, 9:49am

I usually hate them, because they suck most of the time. But from time to time you'll find one that is written in correct English and makes sense. No clue if those translations are actually correct, but at least the sentences make sense.

Good MTL is good. Bad MTL is almost cancer. You can use it for small paragraphs where you only need to get an idea of what it means, but for anything more complex, you need really really good MTL or an actual person who can translate well (there are also translators that suck, so it's not like they are always better.)


» Animechic420 on February 12th, 2022, 10:26am

Machine translations are horrible. Anytime I read those translations, I just keep thinking myself “people don’t talk like that.” The dialogue always sounds like broken English and professional translation is better overall.


» residentgrigo on February 12th, 2022, 11:19am

Always hate them. Those aren´t translations. Full stop but it´s mostly an issue web/light novels have to deal with so I don´t even need to care.


» RoxFlowz on February 12th, 2022, 12:10pm

People who say machine translations are fine, especially for manga or light novels, have no clue. If someone in the scanlation group turns the "translations" into proper English, most readers will believe that the group did a great job, even when the text is completely wrong. Sadly bad English is usually the only indicator of a bad translation, so with good English we're naturally led to believe that it's a great translation.

That said, machine translations are fine if the translator is somewhat decent at the language and just wants a "second opinion" or a base translation they can work with.


» punchmanga on February 12th, 2022, 1:19pm

I agree with others comments i voted They're fine but i was thinking of people who tried their best but had to use "Machine Translations". 😳


» F_J on February 12th, 2022, 2:10pm

They're fine I guess. If they're proofread and it makes sense in the scope of the story. Even if some like nuances change, the overall meaning can still be understood. Except when the grammar is so poor that it would be better to just not.


» HikaruYami on February 12th, 2022, 3:09pm

Always hate them

For the people voting "they're fine", you have no idea what you're talking about and have never studied Japanese at all. For the people voting "I don't care", you have a right to your opinion but I find it sad that you don't value the contents of what you're reading at all. The people voting "love them" are just trolls, obviously.

It's worth noting that someone that has to plug a kanji, or a multi-kanji word, into google translate because they don't know one word in a sentence, isn't "using machine translations". For that exact purpose, google translate is basically just a faster dictionary. And that kind of thing happens all the time to budding translators.

But try to translate a sentence, paragraph, or entire passage with modern software (while admittedly better than 15 years ago with babelfish!) and then convert it to "grammatical english", and chances are WAY too high that you've completely misrepresented what the author intended to convey, and that's not okay.


» MaskingTape on February 12th, 2022, 3:54pm

Quote from HikaruYami
Always hate them

For the people voting "they're fine", you have no idea what you're talking about and have never studied Japanese at all. For the people voting "I don't care", you have a right to your opinion but I find it sad that you don't value the contents of wha ...

exactly this. people who are confident in their mtl or those that deem it as acceptable dont know how wrong they are. mtls are just largely guesswork, most times producing almost an entirely different script. i remember this one group that claimed their translations as being accurate despite being mtl. their work was eloquent enough in english when accuracy-wise they couldn't be more off. 70% of the lines were different in meaning. "kill that bastard." -> "you really killed her?" character was revealed to be alive and the subject was someone else.

a google search is not enough because they either will not understand the full context or go about it in the wrong way. like looking up the individual characters instead of the word as whole and turning 廃人 into abandoned person. mtls are fine if they are paired with basic knowledge of the language. most times they are not.


» vigorousjammer on February 19th, 2022, 4:25am

Quote from MaskingTape
mtls are fine if they are paired with basic knowledge of the language. most times they are not.

To be honest, if someone has basic knowledge of the language, I wouldn't call it a machine translation, then.

Like, if somebody understands japanese grammar and simply has to look up a word or phrase every now and then... I would just call that a translator doing research.


» alidan on February 17th, 2022, 9:14am

I see it this way

you get a mtl, you need to have a translator once over it, kind of just to see if it is close or not, then you need editors to make the english readable and not pure cancer.

I see it at best being a time saver, and at worst, better than nothing.

but i'm assuming the group has bare minimum levels of competence, I have seen horrific ones.


» Joese on February 12th, 2022, 3:58pm

They're fine.
I my case If the story is engaging enough I can overcome barriers such as the series not being fully translated. I mean I'm totally fine and can read mtl novels (In many cases WN aren't even published in English and and we only get to see licensed adaptations of them). I've already used google lens on many pages where the source material is published ,like OPM amongst others... I've even read mtl stuff in Portuguese... 😛

Honestly speaking manga/manwa/... is too heavily influenced by editors, most of the ongoing series are mainstream versions on what the could've been . When most scanations newly target series that are not only similar, they have been brought into the spotlight by legal means by the same company or come from one that has an already established and popular series.

If the series isn't a well known author it'll probably end up axed/a rushed ending the second it's popularity descends if it's getting serialised and if it isn't it can be discontinued , forcefully bought, plagiarised ... Sometimes a discussion with the editors may lead to the author never finishing it for legal reasons... Yet there are tons of series with proper endings that won't get any translations you can mtl. 😔


» Aleph0 on February 12th, 2022, 4:33pm

Always hate them
Machine translators have no persistence as they're fed text bubble-by-bubble, so they have no idea of the context and thus no way to choose the correct meaning among the N possible ones. So you end up with "translations" where characters' names change page by page, or the dialogue says one thing while the drawings show entirely another.

And yet somehow there's always the readers that don't care and even attack the ones pointing out the faults in the translations "hey what are you complaining about free stuff, you're demotivating the group, what if they drop the series". Well IMO for all the effort they put into their release it's hardly a loss.

BTW I found that a quite good indicator of something being MTL'd is whether they've left handwritten text out of bubbles (that isn't SFXs) untranslated, I suppose because OCR had trouble picking it up...


» vigorousjammer on February 19th, 2022, 4:31am

Quote from Aleph0
And yet somehow there's always the readers that don't care and even attack the ones pointing out the faults in the translations "hey what are you complaining about free stuff, you're demotivating the group, what if they drop the series". Well IMO for all the effort they put into their release it's hardly a loss.

Completely agree. I would add that it's usually quite a shame if a series gets a MTL, as its existence may discourage another group from working on the series in the future.

The other group might just think "oh, it's already been translated", and might not even realize that it was MTL... leaving readers with a MTL as the only translated version of a series we may ever get.

And hell, if it's a MTL of a work by an unknown author, it very may be a stake in the coffin for any of that author's other works getting translated.

MTL just ruins everything it touches.


» misc on February 12th, 2022, 6:45pm

Hate them with a passion. It’s not just about incorrect grammar and awkward English, it’s also about completely butchering the actual meaning of the original text and killing any nuance in the original work. It’s downright disrespectful to the author to have their work changed into something else that’s entirely different from what they wrote but still have it labelled as if this is what they wanted to convey in their story. Any criticism they get for that trash is unjustified and unfair, and yet they still do, because MACHINE TRANSLATIONS KEEP BEING PUMPED OUT WITH NO REGARD OR RESPECT FOR THE AUTHOR WHATSOEVER


» Xunu on February 12th, 2022, 6:52pm

I agree with most of the reasoning above. MTL is distracting and offer less accurate meaning. I'm not English native speaker but sometimes I can tell when the word chosen is confusing as hell lol. I think some scans group just wanted to make chapter releases quick...not that I don't understand the pain looking up the dictionary all the time. Japanese is tricky, even translating titles can be extra hard without reference/furigana. But it would be good if they put the effort!


» calstine on February 12th, 2022, 9:04pm

Always hate them. There's no need for explanations or excuses. I'd rather never read a manga/novel than read an MTL. At least then I'm not completely misunderstanding everything about the plot and the characters while living in "blissful" ignorance of that fact.


» Afiaki on February 13th, 2022, 3:51am

The results that can be produced with the modern AI MTLs are actually very good, for >90% of all dialog. Together they do even better. Correct translations are not some kind of miracle. However, the examples all of us think of when we see "MTL" is 100% down to incompetent scanlators. People who have no business translating to English, because they can't produce proper English.

No reader could recognise a MTL with competent proofing unless they read the actual source, or if the 'translator' admits to it. Even translators who actually speak the source language can fall flat, because the way they have translated the dialog is not clearly legible.

But the thing is, it would be very rare for a scanlator to seriously use an MTL if they care about producing good results. It takes way too long to get a good result, and it's essentially guaranteed that if it doesn't – the result is missing something. It's almost always not worth the effort since there's actual bilinguals you could team up with instead.

Anyway, this poll should really include the option As long as the English is correct... but I guess with all that said, such examples are so rare that in the first place they're not even relevant.


» ElKaichou on February 13th, 2022, 9:22am

Fuck MTLs. Fuck them to hell and back.
The only time when it's okay is if you're just trying to get a basic idea of what's going on. But if you're trying to pass them off as a full-fledged translation for everyone to read, then do yourself a favor and try learning the language first, or better yet, get someone who actually knows the language to help you.
And sure there are MTLs that are comprehensible, but they are never a good replacement for actual human translation. More often then not, they skimp over certain nuances and details, and can give straight-up incorrect results


» VawX on February 13th, 2022, 1:52pm

For most part I hate MTL, but yes there are some people that MTL that actually have some knowledge in Japanese and English mmm...
Another thing is, I'm kinda fine reading crappy weird manga with MTL, it's weirdly funnier that way mmm...


» Ceiye on February 13th, 2022, 6:24pm

A hard "depends." Pure MTL is usually ass and I will drop a series if that's the only option. But that is usually because it's done by someone who doesn't even know English or the original language, doesn't even know typesetting, and just wants to share a series they really like. Kind of does the opposite for me, but like I get why they do it

If it's MTL with an English speaker editing it, that's more acceptable. Like, if that's the only way I get to read a series, then whatever. It's in readable English and I respect the effort. I put MTL by a native speaker of the original language who only knows a bit of English lower on my MTL acceptance scale, because even if they know the "intricacies of the language" they sure don't in English. Still in the acceptable range though

Overall I think I'll take an MTL by someone who knows English over whatever the fuck some of these official Chinese webcomic apps are doing. I can't stand reading some things from like WeComics or Webnovel or WebComics etc. because their English is very stilted. Some might be MTLed but some are very specifically off in an "I only learned this language to put on my college apps/resume" kind of way. And I don't mind shitting on them because unlike the MTL scanlators who are doing it because they want to share a series, these companies expect me to pay money for a shit TL. I'd rather just buy the chapter at the original source and MTL it myself


» achyif on February 14th, 2022, 6:11am

As someone who has tried them and then had someone who actually knows japanese translate the text, hate them. They're completely unreliable and will butcher the meaning, no matter how much you pretty it up with proper grammar.


» Sugarshark on February 14th, 2022, 7:45pm

get on your knees and thank the pixel technology that you didn't have to endure the translations/fansubs from 30 years ago; they'd still be on volume 6 of OnePiece at the rate stuff was scanned back then
are there better options?....Yes
are you spending your time and $ creating those options for the public only for them to say it's only 70% accurate and 'garbage'...HELL NO


» Koneko_Nyaa on February 15th, 2022, 12:35pm

So, there are a few people that MTL, but still check, edit, proofread, fix grammar, and correct contextual errors... In some cases they are good enough that you wouldn't know unless they told you.

Those are the exception to the trend.

MTL is generally utter shit. Especially for Asian languages, with Chinese being the worst.
I sometimes wonder if Chinese authors just write nonsensical garbage dialogue or if the TL screwed it up because I see this shit even from groups that employ human translators.
I suspect that they may be MTL-ing the lower priority series without admitting it. Or maybe they're employing Chinese people whose English is worse than MTL and churning out releases without any competent English speaker ever proofreading it.


» MaskingTape on February 15th, 2022, 3:57pm

Quote from achyif
They're completely unreliable and will butcher the meaning, no matter how much you pretty it up with proper grammar.

this. in the first place, it's not possible for machines translators to be able to correct any contextual error? to think otherwise is naïve delusion. baseless optimism if i want to put it nicely. for laymen, it's a trend to equate good translations with good english. however, if being eloquent enough in english was all that was required for a good translation, then it wouldn't be a translation at all. just pure interpretation.

also noticed it is only the ones who do not understand the original language who defend MTL. they are very unaware that what they are reading is not a translation. again, it is just pure interpretation, something any uniformed person who is looking at the raws can provide for themselves. that is one reason why i will never understand why people assert that others should be grateful for mtl?

another user brought up a hypothetical result of 70% accuracy? a generous estimation that anyone who knows the language could disprove. on the subject of readers defending things they know nothing about, flashback to that leecher who was trying to put down another group while claiming this other one was more accurate when they both were mtl 🤣 i alternate between reading translations and raws, and the amount of times a mtl was being praised when i know full well the raw couldnt be any more different was astounding. if you advertise your stuff as mtl while saying there could be errors then it's fine, but if you're going to pretend otherwise dont get butthurt when corrected.


» melepem on February 16th, 2022, 6:36am

The problem is a lot of people don't notice edited MTL. Unless they are done really badly like Hscans one. The Painter/Fire Dragon King one is just awful.

Basically every Korean webtoon scanlators use MTL. Your favorites, Asura, Reaper, Leviatan, and so on. There are some mistranslations that make it easy to identify it. But when you call them out, you get banned by discord and their fans will say nasty things to you.

Let's be real even if you have learned Korean in class and "fluent", translating the cultural stuffs/terms and meme are just impossible. Especially in Korean wuxia/muhyeop and period manhwas. Not to mention different words that share the same Hangul. Especially when they don't even bother to google the terms. Because they want to get the chapters out as soon as possible. For dat ads, patreon, cryptomining money.


» wansmor on February 16th, 2022, 10:06pm

I find it fine at times (maybe cause I often take machine translation when I found my fav. LN hasn't been picked up by anyone). This poll feels very conditional. Yes, I would hate machine translation, but ONLY if there is alternative. If it is what is available, tbh I would take it even though I would barely able to understand less than 50% of the actual sentences.


» Katsono on February 17th, 2022, 6:16am

HATE? That's an understatement. I despise nothing more than MTL.

MTL is the bane of translation. It's like ruining a work forever for English readers unless an official publisher ever decides to localise it. We all know nobody is going to pickup something that was already translated, even more so if the work's reputation is already ruined by MTL.

I curse all the people who are using MTL, even more so when they decide to ruin perfectly fine works that were being slowly translated by passionate people. This problem is even worse with Asian novels, by the way.

MTL people are like the script kiddies equivalent of translators. If you don't have the skills then please don't bother doing something you shouldn't be doing. Anyone can use a OCR and Google Translate nowadays if they really needed to. And please understand translation isn't just switching languages like a machine, it's a freaking writing job. I'm tired of people only seeing mangas or other works of fiction as stories, completely discarding the writing quality or other important traits. I don't even understand how people can read something "just for the story" and goodness it hurts every time I see reviews trashing something because the story doesn't fulfil their fantasy. It's like we have completely different minds.

I think it's popular mostly thanks to some young people (aka the script kiddies of translation) living in poor countries and thinking they can make bucks by becoming translators when they speak neither English nor the language they're translating correctly (most of them are Asian so they somewhat learned English/Chinese/Japanese but not to a decent level yet). Some big novel translation groups have managed to make a livelihood out of them and they think it looks easy to do (and yes it's easy to push up those bad MTL chapters especially for a novel, no need to edit any manga) and they can become the same. Hell I think it actually worked out for some. The price to pay is sacrificing good novels/mangas and their quality for English readers, because there's almost no chance of them receiving another or an official translation especially after their reputation is butchered amongst the English community. If anyone thinks it's free so/or we shouldn't complain, don't forget the real price: butchering the work for anyone but native readers. I hope one day translation can be a thriving field for pros to make a living off and we can decently remunerate them for their work, I'm not a beggar who'll happily take free goods and I'll gladly pay for it to guarantee their livelihood. Thankfully Qidian massacred the official translations of Chinese novels, they're both bad and the money barely goes to the people behind the job/the author.


» melepem on February 17th, 2022, 9:20am

I didn't mention webnovels/LNs because I felt it's a lost cause. Growing up in Singapore or some other Asian countries doesn't automatically mean you know enough Chinese to translate Chinese novels.


» cpapaul on February 18th, 2022, 6:16am

I don’t always hate them but I would prefer if it wasn’t done in the first place. Otherworldly Evil Monarch is one interesting novel/comic that I like but MTL destroyed it.


» vigorousjammer on February 19th, 2022, 4:42am

MTL is the absolute worst.
Groups who use it should just stop.

If people want to attempt read an untranslated manga using MTL, there are plenty of apps on their phone they could use just as easily. There's absolutely no need to put out a released version with shitty inaccurate garbage cleaned and typesetted. Doing so discourages actual translators from picking up the series because they might think "oh, it's already done" without realizing that a series has only been machine translated.

I will say, however, that if a translator has a basic understanding of the source language's grammar and vocab and just needs a bit of assistance with more complex words or phrases, or even cultural references, I don't consider that MTL... that is simply a translator doing some research, and the final product will end up being better because of it.
So, I don't want to discourage translators from looking things up if they don't understand something.

The only problem arises when someone doesn't understand anything whatsoever and just thinks a machine translation will be "accurate enough", so they slap the entire script in there and call it a day. That's simply LAZY. How about you guys actually LEARN the language instead of pretending!